Our latest Community Column is written by Gordon Watson, chief executive of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.

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In November last year, the eyes of the world were fixed firmly on Scotland as the COP26 conference took place in Glasgow to discuss the threat posed by the global climate emergency.

The need for urgent action was clear, and National Parks from across the world came together in a strong public commitment to make tackling climate change and biodiversity loss our top priority.

As part of our ambitious commitment to becoming a net zero organization by 2030 – what we are calling our Mission Zero – we are pursuing several innovative technologies and approaches across Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.

We now have an electric boat, pictured right, for our rangers to use on Loch Lomond, and we are embedding climate and nature gains in our consideration of all planning applications.

The National Park also contains vital natural tools to help tackle climate change, such as woodlands and peatlands, which we are restoring so that they can soak up carbon more effectively from the atmosphere.

Another important area where National Parks can drive change is in addressing the question of how the huge numbers of visitors who enjoy our National Parks each year travel to and around them.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Gordon Watson explains how the National Park plans to become a 'net zero' body in the next eight yearsGordon Watson explains how the National Park plans to become a 'net zero' body in the next eight years

Seven million visitor trips are made to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park every year. Eighty-five per cent – more than 5.9 million – are currently made by car.

However, we know that encouraging people to consider more sustainable travel options will only be effective if those sustainable travel options are available, so we are working with partners to make leaving the car at home a viable option for visitors.

Many of the changes we are driving forward to tackle the climate and nature crises also deliver significant benefits for the communities within our National Parks.

Restored peatland, for example, soaks up rainfall, acting as an effective flood mitigation measure. Investments in ‘active travel’ projects reduce congestion on local roads, and embedding climate and nature considerations in our planning processes results in projects such as the highly sustainable Passivhaus social housing development we recently approved in Drymen.

The challenge is significant. There’s no doubt about that. But with investment and collaboration, we can restore and improve the natural resources we have in our National Parks – for climate, for nature, and for the people who live and work here.